An infestation of Automation: Paradigm Shift in the Economic progress of India

The author in great detail talks about the economic progress India has made as a result of in-creased automation and foreign investment in the country. Talking sector wise he jots down the progress. He later talks about how this has affected employment and how this can be dealt with by the Government of India.

According to a report published by Standard Chartered, India is likely to overtake the US economy by the year 2030[1]. India’s GDP is growing at a fast pace of 7.3% for the fiscal year of 2018-19 as per the forecast of the World Bank. India is a developing nation with a huge economy, the country is acting as a breeding ground for various new business ventures. One such sector is the software sector, which is being supported and advertised by the government. The government’s initiative of Startup India is providing the budding entrepreneurs a supportive ecosystem to flourish in. It’s a sight to witness the Indian software industry blooming. There are some specific areas of computer science that are predicted to bring a revolution in the modern era of technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one such major area. The aim is to understand the economic progress of India.

  1. Agriculture Sector
    1. Industry Sector
    1. Services Sector

The share of these sectors is 17.32%, 29.02%, and 53.66% respectively in the Indian GDP.

In order to understand this grim situation better, we will consider looking in the healthcare, agriculture, and manufacturing areas. Studying the scenario of these areas will give us an overall outlook of the scenario of automation in India.

In the sector of healthcare, automation will benefit in quite many ways. It will increase the accessibility of man belonging to rural areas to great extent. It will certainly help in decreasing the human efforts of the individuals. AI will provide the patients with a structured treatment at the initial level of diagnosis, it will also help in the early detection of an anomaly. Healthcare-facilities and managed-healthcare will definitely benefit from the AI technology, we also need to cater to the concerns of proper treatment. It’s known to every individual that though the illness may be objective but the treatment is subjective. We, even after investing billions and billions of dollars haven’t reached the stage of perfection. Artificial intelligence cannot be trusted to such a great degree. The manufacturing of drugs and medical equipment will certainly get affected in a negative manner because of AI, as manpower will get replaced with robots, this will lead to a giant shift of the working diaspora. It will also hinder the economic growth of the nation to a large extent. Needless to mention that it is highly expensive as well. Sedasys, a robotic technology built by Johnson and Johnson which was to administer anesthesia to patients under the operation of nurses or clinician was banned after long-lasting protests by the American society of anaesthesiologists[5]. To cater the funds for such a highly intricate technology, the government needs to allocate a huge portion of health budget. This can further lead to economic infirmity.

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Looking at the case of Agriculture, it won’t be an exaggeration to mention that this particular sector has taken the downhill road since independence. In the year 1950, this sector was the single largest contributor to the Indian GDP with 52.5% share[6], it was the sector which provided the highest number of job opportunities to the masses. There are more than a dozen factors behind the downfall, but in recent times, AI can be that one major reason which can and will deteriorate the current dynamics of agriculture. In India and around the world, farmers use drip or sprinkler systems in order to irrigate their lands. This system, though reduces the human efforts, is highly negative as well. Most of the times the land gets over irrigated and water gets wasted. AvnijalAgri Automation, a Bengaluru based startup has created an AI controlled app which can control the water supply. This is a great example of AI being used in the right direction and manner[7], but there are disadvantages as well. Agricultural robots are supremely expensive and tough to maintain. Automation will also change the cultural and emotional appeal of agriculture.

Manufacturing Sector is that one major area of Indian economy which will highly get affected by the infestation of automation. Manufacturing is very crucial for the economic recovery and development of a developing nation. It has been the strategic achievement of rich nations over the last several hundred years to create a high-quality manufacturing sector in order to develop national wealth and power, as Erik Reinert shows in his book “How Rich Countries Got Rich…and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor[8]. It’s highly important that we understand the role of manufacturing in the development of a country’s economy. In a research conducted by Roosevelt Institute, it appeared that 80% of the world’s production of factory machinery has been controlled by what we would consider as of great powers. Manufacturing in India after the recent liberalization of the market has gone up to USD 198.05 billion dollars with a GVA increase of 14.8% on a year-to-year basis. It’s very important to keep in mind that the Indian government has launched numerous schemes and initiatives in order to make India a manufacturing hub for the economic progress of India. The government with the help of programs such as Make in India and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal VikasYojana (PMKVY) aims to create 100 million jobs by the year 2022[9].  “The manufacturing sector of India has the potential to reach US$ 1 trillion by 2025 and India is expected to rank amongst the top three growth economies and manufacturing destination of the world by the year 2020”[10]. If automation is to overtake the Indian market, then according to a report of World Bank 69% of today’s jobs in India are threatened by it[11]. The Indian Textile giant Raymonds said it would replace 10,000 jobs with robots over three years. These numbers are alarming for the Indian economy. The data of these reports very acutely points out that automation will be mordacious for the manufacturing industry. PMKVY, which aims to train individuals on a ground-root level, will get dislodged from its very path because the jobs will get eliminated.

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It is imperative to mention that joblessness won’t only affect the individuals but people associated with them as well. Psychological, sociological, and overall factors of automation over the individual shall also be considered for the economic progress of India. We simply can’t passively ignore the coming of automation, but what we can do is to utilize the technology for our good and turn it into our favor. It won’t be an overstatement to say that automation is turning out be a “necessary evil” in today’s era. What needs to be done is to take better initiatives for the future, and which can ameliorate the process of automation or economic progress in India.

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[1] India likely to be larger economy than US by 2030: Standard Chartered, Business Today (2019), https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/india-likely-larger-economy-us-2030-standard-chartered/story/310153.html.

[2] Arnab kumar, Punit Shukla &Alekh Sharan, National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence NitiAyog, http://niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/document_publication/NationalStrategy-for-AI-Discussion-Paper.pdf.

[3] Andrew Ng: Why AI Is the New Electricity, Stanford Graduate School of Business, https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/andrew-ng-why-ai-new-electricity.

[4] Arnab kumar, Punit Shukla &Alekh Sharan, National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence NitiAyog, http://niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/document_publication/NationalStrategy-for-AI-Discussion-Paper.pdf

[5] Anonymous, Are Robotics Still The Future of Medicine? MDDI Online (2017), https://www.mddionline.com/are-robotics-still-future-medicine?cid=nl.x.qmed02.edt.aud.qmed.20160405.

[6] Sector-wise contribution of GDP of India, Comparing India vs China by GDP – StatisticsTimes.com, http://statisticstimes.com/economy/sectorwise-gdp-contribution-of-india.php.

[7] Smart Farming: This startup has a new irrigation method – one that uses just an app, The Economic Times (2017), https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/features/smart-farming-this-startup-has-a-new-irrigation-method-one-that-uses-just-an-app-avanijal-agritech/articleshow/62248946.cms.

[8] Six Reasons Manufacturing is Central to the Economy, Roosevelt Institute (2011), http://rooseveltinstitute.org/six-reasons-manufacturing-central-economy/.

[9]PradhanMantriKaushalVikasYojana (PMKVY), PradhanMantriKaushalVikasYojana (PMKVY), http://pmkvyofficial.org/.

[10] Brand India, IBEF : India Brand Equity Foundation, https://www.ibef.org/industry/manufacturing-sector-india.aspx.

[11]Edd Gent, Future – Why automation could be a threat to India’s growth BBC News (2017), http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170510-why-automation-could-be-a-threat-to-indias-growth.